Keep Your Fork! #12

Saturday, August 20, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

Dear saints, we “keep our fork” because we know “dessert” is coming: Heaven is real, it is organized, it is defiled, and it will be restored (here is our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ). Even the “best thrills and chills” that life on Earth has to offer us do not compare to what lies ahead for we who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour. Only the depths of God’s infinite wisdom are the limit!

It has been estimated that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all of Earth’s beaches. (Try to wrap your mind around that!) These celestial bodies, where the angels live, are mostly unknown to us because of their extreme distances from us. There are innumerable worlds—planets, bodies of rock, ice, and gas—no human has ever visited. Father God has deemed them our realm of influence in the ages to come. Therefore, we must receive glorified physical bodies that can function in outer space.

“For our conversation [lifestyle reflecting citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things [the offices of government!] unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21). After reflecting on God’s magnificent plans for us in the ages to come (covered in the first three chapters), the Apostle Paul burst into a doxology or praise of God: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Ephesians 3:20,21). May we too reply with a hearty, “Amen!”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘sop?’

Keep Your Fork! #11

Friday, August 19, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

For many, “church” is just a “humbling” place where someone prattles in monotone about superstitious nonsense. Yawns can be frequently heard, and sagging heads and closed eyes can be seen regularly: here, it is a sin to whisper anything save a prayer. (Now we see why this strict, ceremonial setting is usually abandoned for an assembly “more exciting.” At this new “church,” dancing, jumping, lifting of hands, singing for hours—such entertainment, such “praise and worship”—will attract newcomers indefinitely!)

Though religion is tiresome and Christendom dull, life in Christ (whether now or in Heaven) is something else entirely. According to today’s Scripture, we the saints in the Body of Christ are bound for the heavenly places. In God’s mind, we already share in Christ’s influence there. We have been ascended and we sit together (as in seats of authority) in heavenly places in Christ. Father God’s purpose or intent in the endless ages to come is to “shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Grace, all that He can do for and with us through Christ’s finished crosswork, can be appreciated to some degree now, though its fullest extent surpasses our finite minds.

Furthermore, it is not merely “grace” but “the exceeding [beyond, above] riches [resources, treasures, reserves] of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” How we are so undeserving, but what Father God will do in and through us in eternity future is something so exceptional that it will take a literal forever to completely fathom it. His kindness to involve us in what He is doing and will do with His beloved Son—instead of letting us go to a permanent Devil’s Hell that we have so merited as sinners—is something that still escapes our total comprehension even now.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Keep Your Fork! #10

Thursday, August 18, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

Prior to the Apostle Paul’s execution, he wrote: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). This loops back to chapter 2: “[8] Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: [9] Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. [10] Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. [11] It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: [12] If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [13] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Remember, there is a kingdom in Heaven (currently defiled by Satan’s angels, but a kingdom nonetheless). Jesus Christ, heir to King David’s throne, will extend His earthly government into the heavenly places—and here is our “inheritance” and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ (recall Ephesians 1:8-12). “Eternal glory” is the praise and honor the Lord Jesus Christ will receive in and through us because of the fulfillment of our Father’s “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).

To wit, Father God’s plan to exalt His Son throughout the endless ages to come involves our appointment in the heavenly offices of government and Israel’s appointment in the earthly offices of government. All saints—filled with Christ’s life and teaching His doctrine—glorify Him by “reigning with him” in their respective roles. As today’s Scripture reveals, Heaven, like Earth, will be a realm of intense activity and profound instruction in eternity future….

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 17, 2022

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

God’s Perfect Timing

Friday, December 17, 2021

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #2

Thursday, December 9, 2021

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11,12 KJV).

The third and fourth verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“‘To you, in David’s town, this day,
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord;
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.
The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling-clothes
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.’”

Bethlehem-Judah—not to be confused with the Bethlehem of northern Israel—was known for being King David’s birthplace (1 Samuel 16:18). It was also where his great-grandmother Ruth had lived (Ruth 1:19). But, Bethlehem-Judah (or Bethlehem-Ephratah, or Bethlehem-Judaea) was no Jerusalem, or Rome, or Alexandria, major cities at that time. Nevertheless, the shadows/types/previews were present.

Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16). He is the Son of David who can accomplish the governmental part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Reading from Luke chapter 1: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” God had His Son born in Bethlehem of Judah, the same place where King David was born 1,000 years earlier!

The angel said it was easy for the shepherds to find Baby Jesus. There was only one Bethlehem-Judah, and there was only one manger in that little town that held a little Baby tightly wrapped in clothes. That little Baby would grow up to be a Man, mature and thus fully able to reign from David’s throne. No wonder the angels proceeded to sing such wonderful news!

What Child Is This? #1

Monday, November 29, 2021

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33 KJV).

The first verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Such an event had never before happened in human history. God had promised “the seed of the woman” to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), but it was 4,000 years later that Mary was identified as that “woman.” That the Creator God would take upon Himself the flesh of sinful man, though Himself never being defiled by sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). Unheard of in pagan religions!

The angels understood the Old Testament prophecies about God’s Son being born of a human mother. She was a “virgin,” a young woman (perhaps in her teens) who had never had any sexual relations with a man (Luke 1:34). On the night of Baby Jesus’ birth into the human race—the culmination of humanity added to His deity—the angels appeared in the sky and sang, to encourage the shepherds in the nearby fields to hurry to Bethlehem to see a little Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:8-14).

“[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Once the shepherds came to Bethlehem, and found Baby Jesus, they beheld such a strange sight!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “Can you explain how Jesus ‘set his face’ in Luke 9:51?” and “What are ‘benefactors?’

Seven Men Named Before Birth #5

Friday, August 6, 2021

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 KJV).

Who are the seven noteworthy men in Scripture named before their births?

As we have seen now, in each of these situations, man’s sinful flesh is at work but God’s faithfulness overcomes it. Abraham (and especially) Sarah schemed to have a child their way (through Hagar) instead of God’s way (through Sarah). Then, Hagar was punished because of the ensuing domestic conflict; regardless, God blessed Abraham’s child through Hagar, Ishmael, for the LORD “heard” (took notice) of her dire predicament.

When joyous Abraham and skeptical Sarah finally did have a son, Isaac was appropriately named because of the “laughter.” The Abrahamic Covenant now had an heir. Although King David had illicit relations with Bathsheba, and that resulting child died, the LORD was faithful in giving them another son, Solomon, whose alternate name Jedidiah meant “beloved of JEHOVAH.” It was through this boy that God would achieve the Davidic Covenant: a son of David would reign over Israel forever. King Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom was a pagan idolater; he caused the 10 northern tribes to stumble in heathenism. A son of David, King Josiah, destroyed Jeroboam’s religious system and instituted spirituality “founded of JEHOVAH.”

Though idolatrous Israel deserved her Babylonian Captivity, the LORD used Cyrus King of Persia to “possess the furnace” (overthrow Babylon), thereby freeing the Jews and letting them return to the Promised Land. Father God sent John the Baptist to announce the entrance of His Son: He had not forgotten His covenants with Israel, but would “favor” them according to His grace and fulfill those promises despite the nation’s rank unbelief. Finally, Jesus Christ Himself took upon human flesh, to shed His blood and become “JEHOVAH-Saviour”—first and foremost of Israel, but ultimately for the whole world!

One final note worthy of our consideration. Looking at the list another way, we can read the following message: “Being heard of God results in laughter, JEHOVAH has beloved and founded, the furnace/oppressor is possessed/conquered, for JEHOVAH is gracious and Saviour.” These are certainly descriptive of Jesus Christ’s ministry—what He will do especially for Israel.

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 4, 2021

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

That They All May Be One! #10

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:20,21 KJV).

What exactly is this unity?

Contrary to popular belief, the harmony or accord of which Jesus spoke in John chapter 17 was not Bible believers setting aside doctrine so as to unite with heretics and apostates. Rather, it was the reunification of the peoples of Israel and Judah, the divided kingdoms joined together as they were in the days of David. Through the Apostles’ preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom—Jesus is Christ, the Son of David—their converts would return to Father God and thus submit to the Davidic dynasty as before. Ultimately, this will occur during the Millennium.

Re-read John chapter 17: “[16] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [17] Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. [18] As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. [19] And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” We must not throw away sound Bible doctrine, for true Christian unity is based on the truth (cf. Ephesians 4:3-6). Thus, it is impossible to make all beliefs equivalent: all religions and denominations cannot be accepted without reservation. The Bible is specific in its teachings; therefore, we conclude doctrine matters (Romans 16:17,18; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 3:9-11; et al.). Remember, the division between Israel and Judah occurred because of Solomon’s false religions, epitomized as: “Doctrine does not matter. Let us all gather around any and every god. All religions are the same anyway!”

Nay, brethren, we bring to mind the stern warning in Scripture: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:14,15).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘by and by’ mean?